Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act went into effect in 1990 and was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. It protects disabled employees from discrimination by their employers based on disability. Disability is defined as an impairment that limits the major life activity of a person, whether mental or physical. Disability is determined on a case by case basis and does not include alcoholism, drug abuse or visual impairment. Visual impairment can be fixed with glasses, corrective lenses or surgery.

The employment section of the Americans with Disabilities Act states that no company shall discriminate against a qualified person with a disability during the application process, hiring, promotions, firing, job training, the conditions and privileges of employment. Also, companies must create a hospitable workplace for disabled employees, which include making the proper accommodations at the office to help with the physical or mental limitations of the employee.

Section two of the Americans with Disabilities Act also states that any public entity must provide disabled citizens with completely accessible buildings and public transportation or be charged with discrimination. The National Railroad Passenger Corporation also falls under the jurisdiction of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Section three of the Americans with Disabilities Act protects the public, which is considered the consumer, from any discrimination at public places. People with disabilities cannot be discriminated against on the basis of their disability in regards to the full enjoyment of goods, services, facilities and accommodations. The discrimination, if present, could come from the owner of the public institution, an employee, or anyone else involved with the entity. The entities that fall under this section of the Americans with Disabilities Act are places of lodging, transportation, recreation, education, dining, stores, care providers and other public places.

There have been countless lawsuits filed by disabled Americans regarding the third section of the Americans with Disabilities Act and those lawsuits usually have to deal with the physical accessibility of public places. All construction of housing, public buildings and private buildings must meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act upon completion of the construction. This was set forth in 1992 and must be complied with for inspection to pass successfully.

The Communications Act of 1934 was amended with the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It required that all of the telecommunications companies in the United States offer customers with disabilities, including deafness and speech impediments, with the proper equipment to aid them with their disability.

Title five of the Americans with Disabilities Act deals with retaliation against a person that exercises their right under the act. As stated by the act, “Individuals who exercise their rights under the ADA, or assist others in exercising their rights, are protected from retaliation. The prohibition against retaliation or coercion applies broadly to any individual or entity that seeks to prevent an individual from exercising his or her rights or to retaliate against him or her for having exercised those rights… Any form of retaliation or coercion, including threats, intimidation, or interference, is prohibited if it is intended to interfere with the exercise of rights under the ADA.”

An amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act will become effective on January 1, 2009 and has been signed into law by President George W. Bush. This new amendment to the law lists major life activities that could be affected by the disability of a person. Those activities include performing manual tasks, caring for oneself, seeing, eating, sleeping, hearing, lifting, bending, standing, walking, breathing, speaking, learning, concentration, reading, communicating, thinking, working and the operation of major bodily functions.

The Americans with Disabilities Act has come under quite a bit of criticism since it was signed into law in the 1990s, as with all laws, even though it aims to protect employees from discrimination by their employers. Some criticisms include the fact that some employees are receiving benefits from their employers for problems such as carpel tunnel, neuropathy, and other minor problems involving bodily pain. Some people feel that they should not be receiving the high amount of benefits they are receiving at work for such minor problems.

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